ZIMBABWE:INVESTMENTS IN NUTRITION FOSTERS ECONOMIC GROWTH …
June 9, 2018
………as a country, every dollar we invest on Nutrition returns 16 dollars and the GDP grows 12% …….
By NEVSON MPOFU; HARARE.
Food and Nutrition Council of Zimbabwe has come up with its National Nutrition Survey for 2018. The survey took a snap on issues of nutrition intake, malnutrition, Stunting, food-security, health status, care on resources and practices, health services and on water and sanitation health [WASH] .
Recently in Harare at a sensitization meeting of combined organizations, Scaling up Nutrition [SUN], Zimbabwe Civil Society Alliance, Food and Nutrition Council and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, malnutrition and Nutrition Interventions came out of the discussion as the main areas to be looked at in Zimbabwean communities, the Report states.
Stunting, in 2010 in Zimbabwe it was at 33 % to 46% in many districts in the country but now it has decreased to 26% .Stunting is a serious health problem because children as they grow are far short of their age. At most, mothers lack nutritious food at a time they are pregnant and as a result, it leads to low birth weight in babies. It was observed that early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breast feeding are solutions building up to the 1st 1000 days. .
A Nutrition Expert from the Food and Nutrition Council, Siboniso Chigova expressed the need for the Government working together with partners in the area of Nutrition, to look at Micro-Nutrient Interventions in communities mainly for the sake of improving on the health of pregnant mothers. Secondly, as they grow, children need health, nutritious food, well managed to avoid over-weight and under-weight .Thirdly, these interventions, builds up on public and community health at large.
The Expert elaborated on the issue of underweight, over-weight and wasting which affects some women and children in the country as a whole. Under-weight is related to shortage of adequate body nutrients due to poor diet in-take. Over-weight is excess in-take of nutrients which can lead to obesity. Wasting is short of height, thin and deficiently emaciated body due to lack of good nutrition.
‘’Zimbabwe is signatory to the Malawi Declaration which compels us to be below 10% of stunting. As a country, multi-sectorial interventions are important so as to grapple with health challenges affecting women and children ‘’.
‘’Still according to the World Health Organization, Stunting is still high, therefore more interventions needed to address this challenge must be crafted in line with national strategies , policies and international protocols .
‘’What we have really done is , we have Micro-Nutrition Supplement in form of Iron and foliate tablets in pregnant women so that they do not give birth to low birth weight babies . These safe-guards, the health of mothers especially as they are pregnant and the baby in general in the first 1000 days.
‘’Those who give birth at home are the ones with problems. However, delivery in clinics and hospitals is at 87% and those at home are 17%. There is need for more education and multi-interventions of multi-response at country level, she elucidated.
The country at the moment has Food Consumption Score level at 52%. At the same time, protein rich food consumption level is at 34% in high income families and 78% with the majority in INCOME and ABSOLUTE poverty. Findings further give information that child-mortality and morbidity has resulted from hunger, malnutrition and a condition called stunting which affects children at most mainly in poor food security communities.
Giving her comment arising from this, a Nutritionist from the Ministry of Health and Child Care –Mirriam Banda said the 2018 Status Report shows that 2019 needs new strategies because less than 5 year children are much impacted. The Nutrition Status of these children needs to improve as well especially by merely supporting families with nutrition resources. This is a food security issue we need to address. Above all , the issue of the first 1000 days in breastfeeding the child from neo-natal stage is vital in reducing stunting and related diseases as children grow up . The 1st 1000 days is the period between pregnancy and the child’s 2nd birthday.
‘’Yes, it is so important because if we do this, we can easily manage stunting and diseases related to malnutrition which seriously affect children especially during times of drought and starvation in the country.’’
‘’It is also important to manage water and food borne diseases .For example, look at these diseases, especially diarrhea; it reduces nutrients levels in the body during illness. This is a problem. We cannot manage these problems if we do not have water and sanitation health and nutrition interventions at large.
‘’To give solutions to these, we have Food and Nutrition Committees in the country’s districts. The Ministry works with its stakeholders and partners who identify the vulnerable people in the country .In this respect, the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee is important, she pointed out.
Speaking on the sensitization meeting as linked to the report , Kudakwashe Zombe , an official from [ZCSOSUNA] , Zimbabwe Civil Society Alliance a nutrition organization which co-ordinated the meeting ,said the mandate of their organization is to scale up nutrition in the country so that malnutrition issues can be addressed .
‘’We work with the civil society, the Government and International organizations to contain stunting in the country. So far the Government has contributed 3,5 million towards nutrition programs . There is need for more finance towards the success of similar programs.
’Let us talk about Nutrition Investment in the country so that here in Zimbabwe stunting reaches far low figures from 26% . We need more allocation in terms of national budget so that we can reach Global standards.
‘’Let us focus on policy development, budget allocation, education and commitment on Nutrition education, sensitization and awareness in our communities’’, he said.
As a country, every dollar we invest on Nutrition, we get 16 dollars in return and the Gross Domestic Product grows by 12% . The World Bank Report also recommends on the health minds in school if children are nourished .Healthier children are at most participatory than those who are malnourished . Investments in this sector are always important. The Investment made so far , is low as compared to other countries because of low research due to lack of funding in the country .
Investments in Nutrition reduce Global –Acute Malnutrition. As a whole ,scaling up nutrition make countries win and achieve on Sustainable Development Goals like Goal 2 . Secondly countries achieve on poverty reduction of which is part of Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.
Speaking on behalf of Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health, Honorable Tholakele Khumalo said regarding the issue, parliamentarians have a big role in promoting the nutrition agenda. She reiterated on the need for communities to be sensitized on issues of food security and promote nutrition levels scaling up through good, better farming practices.
‘’In fact we need to first of all sensitize members on the role they play in scaling up nutrition in communities . Capacity building on issues related to food security in the country entrenches knowledge.
‘’The Government must dwell closely on Investments in Nutrition and this is only successful through the voice of parliament working with policy makers to push for sound budget allocation in the area of nutrition.
‘’Dwelling more on nutrition sounds better than putting concentrated effort on politics because , without nutrition , we cannot win and achieve the Goals of the United Nations centered on ending poverty , good Health , Education and Sustainable Development in the country’’ , she raped up .
The half day meeting’s objectives, sensitized civil society, parliamentarians and Government on the current Nutrition status of the Zimbabwean population. It also stood to disseminate findings from the nutrition for growth, to discuss role of policy makers in ensuring that communities are well nourished. Lastly, to identify existing opportunities and foster dialogue at national level.
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